US anti-corruption sanctions

The United States has been the most frequent user of targeted unilateral sanctions, including against those who are alleged of committing grand corruption. The US has at its disposal several types of sanctions focused against individuals accused of corruption.

The 2016 Global Magnitsky sanctions regime, underpinned by the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, is a horizontal targeted sanctions regime that applies travel bans and asset freezes on individuals accused of serious corruption and/or human rights violations. It allows the imposition of sanctions on individuals across the world, outside of any national sanctions programme in place. However, corruption-related crimes can be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky program only if they have been committed within five years prior to the announcement of sanctions.

  • As of January 2024, there were  108 individuals on the Global Magnitsky sanctions list for reasons relating to corruption or corruption and human rights violations, according to our research. The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) keeps an updated list of sanctioned individuals, which includes those subject to the Global Magnitsky Act. However, this list does not offer a categorisation of individuals depending on whether they have been sanctioned for corruption or for reasons of human rights violations. Therefore, our categorisation of individuals subject to Global Magnitsky sanctions for corruption reasons and their inclusion on this website relies on the information published by the US government in its press releases.

While the US government established several national sanctions programs with anti-corruption elements, such as the blocking of property of certain Venezuelan government officials under its Venezuela sanctions, these national programs are currently not included in the Sanctions Watch database.

Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act allows the Secretary of State to ban the entry of foreign officials who have been involved with significant corruption and/or a gross violation of human rights. Decisions about individuals who are denied visas under the Section 7031(c) rules are not always made public. They are also not included in the Sanctions Watch database.

US legal acts & useful links